Sunday, March 16, 2008

All I Want To Do Is Listen To My Prince Record

Yes, I said ‘record’ and yes I said ‘Prince’. ‘Purple Rain’, what a classic and perfect music for my little living room non-weight bearing workout routine-a little yoga/stretching, some sit-ups, legs lifts, old fashioned bicycle pedaling in the air while laying on my back. It isn’t much but it helps keep me sane and maybe one day I’ll have abs of steel instead of abs of Pillsbury Doughboy. Well, maybe abs of cardboard. Anyway, the dreaded day has finally come and my 19 year old turntable has finally died. Do they still make them? That’s always been my panic, will there come a day when I can no longer enjoy my vinyl? As it happens they do still make them and I can buy one in downtown Boulder less than 10 minutes from my house for $150 which I’m sure is less than what I paid for the old turntable. But ‘Purple Rain’ will have to wait because I’m not going out tonight in the snowstorm. Or more precisely I’m not going out again in the snowstorm. In a fit of wishful thinking I was hoping it was the receiver that was toast and not my beloved turntable. It’s an ancient P.O.S. receiver that Jonny bought used from a friend to do the friend a favor. We could have afforded a nice new one but instead I have been putting up with this crappy receiver for maybe 10 years, maybe more. I know that sounds spoiled. It’s not like I wanted a super fancy thing, just something that wasn’t a complete P.O.S. To add insult to injury the friend bought a super fancy mega receiver. Anyway when music stopped coming out when the turntable was playing I was more than happy to blame the receiver. So we plugged the turntable into the other outlets and it still didn’t work. But suddenly the tape deck (yes, I said tape deck) wasn’t working either. The only thing working was the CD player and the radio. So we busted out our old receiver and the turntable and tape deck didn’t play on that either and the CD player did play but that receiver was partially broken and neither of us could remember in what way it was broken so the crappy receiver was not off the hook and I decided we should go out in the snowstorm at 4:00 on a Sunday to get a new receiver so I can get my abs of cardboard while listening to Prince next week.

I’m pretty much out of the loop when it comes to fancy pants electronics equipment. I’m probably the only person in Boulder with an old school t.v. and my stereo equipment is older than the salesmen that work at the electronics store. It seems like that stuff is designed to break so I usually go for the cheapest thing and it usually works just fine. Too many features just confuse me. Unfortunately I can’t tell if the receiver I want will work with my old fashioned equipment as the box says it’s for a home entertainment system and I’m not even sure what that is. When we finally hunt down a salesman to help us it’s clear that he’s almost certainly never seen a turntable in person in his life except maybe at a club. I ask him anyway, will this receiver thingy work with my turntable? He’s not sure and asks me if it has some specific kind of wire but he uses number & letters to describe it. Um, yeah, I explain to him I have no idea and he asks if it has a red plug and a white plug. Yes, thank you, why couldn’t he just say that in the first place? I notice that the receiver box says ‘XM ready’ and finally I’m excited about technology. But it turns out I have to buy a transmitter ($30 and they’re out of stock) and a dock for the transmitter (another $30-if I need them both for it to work why not sell them together?) plus the subscription I have for my car won’t work in the house, I need to pay for another half a subscription. Uhhh, never mind. Can I plug my computer into the receiver and run XM from there? Well, I could but I instead I could buy this other thingy that will wirelessly transmit the XM to the receiver, it’s only $200. Umm, how much is the cord to connect the computer to the receiver? $7? We’ll go with that.

$307 plus tax and lots of wrestling with wires later and good news is the tape deck finally works but bad news is still no Prince coming from the speakers. And because my components are so out of date I have to write down a key so I know what to set the receiver to (DVR=Tape Deck, etc.). But it sounds so much nicer than the old receiver and when the snow melts in a couple of days we’ll get our turntable and finally there will be Prince and maybe some not so flabby abs.

Oh and here’s a tip for installing new electronic equipment-put the border collies in another room because one of them will want to help, one of them will find a stash of long lost balls behind the sofa that was moved and toss them at you repeatedly at the most inopportune moments and the third will decide that she really needs her head scritched like right now, again at the most inopportune moment.


  1. I bought my stereo (speakers, amp/receiver, turntable) when I first left college. Sparkling new in 1977, ladies and gentlemen. And they still work fine, thank you very much. Except I've had to replace the needle on the turntable a couple of times. Could that be your problem?


  2. First thing we thought was that it might be the needle but if you hold your head up to the turntable you can hear the music coming out. I suppose that doesn't necessarily mean the needle is o.k. but it seemed like if you could hear music maybe it's not the needle. I'm trying to find an old needle to check but I think I threw them all out. A new needle is around $90 and a turntable is $150 so unless we can return the needle which I think is doubtful it's hardly worth the risk.

    Our speakers are from the 70's at the latest, maybe even older. I'm not even sure who in my family bought them or when. I took custody of them when I moved away from Chicago since no one seemed to be using them.

  3. Roxanne4:53 PM

    Gosh, I haven't had a record player since junior high, but we do have old-style speakers that are the size of a dorm fridge. Our receiver is also pretty big. Perhaps some day we'll upgrade to the new tiny stuff. But, I'm just not that much of a music nut. Every CD I own fits on my iPod, and it's still half empty.

    Don't shoot me, but wouldn't it be cheaper and easier to buy the album on CD?

  4. "Don't shoot me, but wouldn't it be cheaper and easier to buy the album on CD?"

    Ah, well, that is a whole post in itself. In short, vinyl sounds so so so so so so so much better than CD's. The other issue is that I have over 1000 albums and maybe 700-800 45's, most of which is long out of print and was never made available on CD and I don't want to rebuy my whole record collection. We do have a ton of CD's but sometimes I just wanna hear one of my old LP's. These days we buy almost everything on MP3 and burn onto CD's if we want to listen in the car or on the stereo. I have a CD player that burns CD's from LP's but it's a pain. You can get turntables that hook up to your computer so you can create MP3's from your albums but I haven't had the time/motivation to research that.

    Most people these days buy MP3's and listen to everything via Ipods that hook up to your car or stereo but I don't want to spend the money for all the equipment to do that.